It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.Francis of Assisi
Yesterday we set out on a month long walk across Italy from Florence to Assisi to Rome. Our objective is not only to experience the beauty and history of this country, but to seek a higher purpose for our life.
And dedicate this walk to my cousin, who is in a fight for his life.
We started with three days in Florence where we saw firsthand the beauty of this city. We have a newfound appreciation for art because we read books about the city and famous artists beforehand. Seeing David, The Birth of Venus, and climbing to the top of the Duomo are incredible experiences, made richer because we appreciate what went into them.
Our first two days of this 320+ mile journey started in the center of Florence (Firenze) and progressed quickly into the Italian Hill Country. When we walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2016 across northern Spain we met many other pilgrims along that route. Hundreds of thousands of people complete that pilgrimage each year. The routes are well marked and there are many options for lodging and dining.
In contrast, this route is newer. Markings are not nearly as complete. We depend on the guidebook The Way of St Francis by Sandy Brown and tracks uploaded to GPS apps on our phone to stay on the route. We’ve gone off track about half a dozen times—but not too far off track. It’s also more difficult to find lodging. We’re making reservations about three days in advance rather than just walking into a town.
It is also a more solitary endeavor. So far we’ve connected with only two other pellegrinos (pilgrims) in two days. Yesterday we ran into Peter and Barbara from Victoria, B.C.—practically neighbors to us in Tacoma—and had dinner with them. Today, just us.
However, the scenery is great. Firenze itself is amazing. And we spend hours walking through olive groves, vineyards, and quiet forests. Plus, the food is, well, it’s Italian. Fantastic.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we also seek to understand a higher purpose for our life. St Francis is an example of someone who changed his world for the better. We hope to learn from his example.
We also walk in prayerful dedication for my cousin. This year he has endured multiple surgeries for life threatening cancers and other issues. He’s a fighter, and we pray that he will get through this.
We hope you enjoy this journey of discovery across Italy. Last week we hiked the route of a second century Roman wall across the island of Britannia. Now we’re on our way to Rome itself, following in the footsteps of a Saint who made the world a better place.